When I settled on the fact that there might be a better way to teach the TGU, I was working through solving another problem, backfilling a movement assessment into what I do, what I teach, and into our clinic. After 15 years, we had recently removed the FMS from our training practice and from our clinical practice. Throughout this process, I was focused on how movement develops in infants and how the rules of movement are different in adults (learning something the first time and then re-learning that same thing later when it has been forgotten is not the same).
At the same time, Jeff had set up a workshop where we were going to be able to spend a day teaching 50-100 highs school football players and their coaches some basic lifts, and he wanted to include the TGU.
So, how does one teach 100 high school football players how to do the TGU in a 60-minute window with only 3 people to help supervise?
My first concern was safety. Someone was going to get hurt. As Jeff and I were discussing how to accomplish this and I mentioned that I had a “new way” of teaching the TGU that would eliminate the bulk of the risk and make it easier to teach. At the time, it was only something I had played around with on a smaller scale, but I felt it was a good starting point. He said he wanted to see it…which was almost as stressful as the time Pavel asked me to teach a section on troubleshooting the TGU. When I asked Pavel what exactly I needed to cover, his response was “make it original; something I haven’t seen before.” No pressure then, and no pressure this time.
Over the next 3 weeks, we fine-tuned this teaching progression and then gave it a trial run in my grad class of 15 students. I’d set aside a full 60 minutes to cover the material. Fifteen minutes into class and we were done. Fast forward to standing in front of 75 high school football players, their coaching staff, Jeff and our invited friends, and we rolled this out in mass. Not a single bell was dropped, not a single injury occurred, and everyone completed safe, effective get-ups WITH time left to spare. And, because of the weather, we did this in a weight room where things were “tight.” Afterward, Jeff’s feedback:
All we really did was change our rules of teaching to better follow the rules of movement. The first rule that the original way to teaching the get up didn’t follow was simple before complex. The TGU is Complex; there are a lot of steps (which noobies aren’t familiar with), and we instruct people to keep their eye on their hand/bell as they are going through it (which means the only way people have to troubleshoot is through verbal instruction or to take their eyes off their hand/bell). Verbal instructions are useful in some instances, but the language of movement is felt, not heard. This teaching method makes the TGU a series of individual positions, not one long exercise, and shifts the language of correction back to feel.
The second rule that gets inadvertently violated is mobility before stability. In teaching the TGU, we are asking people to be mobile enough to get into each position and stable enough to transition from one position into the next; that is one of the reasons the TGU is so great, it integrates mobility with stability. But, when we are teaching the TGU, that blurring of the lines actually makes the learning harder. Separating the TGU into a series of positions allows us to make sure that the person we are instructing has the required mobility to get into each position WITHOUT any need for stability. Then, once we have accomplished this we require them to be stable.
The next rule we leveraged was static before dynamic. The TGU is a very dynamic drill. Unless you tilt your perspective. I learned this lesson very quickly at a kettlebell workshop Jeff taught in Oklahoma City in 2010. All we did was 1 TGU. Just one. But it took about 5 minutes to complete and not a single person wanted to do 2. Surprisingly after this stupid drill, when everyone retested their normal TGU it was much better, smoother, and easier to go heavier. Why? He rednecked us into following this rule.
The final rule we leveraged was stable before unstable. Again, this is one of the tenants of the TGU – moving, adjusting and adapting under the weight for the duration of the movement. However, learning is different than training. Learning needs to involve fewer wiggly parts at the beginning (more stable) and gradually increase the wiggles (more unstable). However, if you are doing a TGU with a bell (or any other weight) overhead, it is unstable. If you have a shoe – in an effort to mitigate this rule- you don’t have any kind of load, and the CNS doesn’t respond the same. I’m not saying its a waste of time, but I am saying I haven’t used this party trick in 2+ years. If the body isn’t able to find stability the right way, the way it is best suited to be stable, it will find an alternative way to find stability (these are compensations). Without a load, it is too easy to create a TGU that is full of compensations. This teaching method allows us to mitigate the unstable parts of doing a get-up under load in a manner that makes our loaded get-ups more stable than unstable.
The method we put together made the TGU simple, focused on the mobility components, and emphasized static and stable. We reverse engineered and then leveraged the rules that govern movement within the language of movement.
Regardless of how you teach the TGU, certain rules are set in stone that must be followed from a safety standpoint:
- Neutral wrist on the loaded arm
- Loaded arm stays 100% vertical
- Shoulders stay down and back and as far from the ears as possible.
- From the elbow to the Short-Tripod position of the TGU, there is a straight line from elbow to elbow through the shoulders
- The eyes stay on the bell from the back to half kneeling positions (and half kneeling to the back positions). Above half-kneeling eyes are on the horizon and the chin is level.
At this point, I think we are ready to take a look at this drill. Why did we call it the Static Get-up instead of the Better Get-up, or the Brandon Get-up? While those sound better, this is just a static variation/teaching method of the original get-up.